When I was younger my mother quoted a saying, “Better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” In the age of Facebook and Twitter, I think this phrase is more pertinent than ever.

On Monday I picked up a passenger that should have followed this adage.  Construction abounded that day and I found myself waiting a lot.  On the way to this particular passenger, the people operating the Stop/Slow sign seemed to favor the other side. I waited.  Just as they motioned me through the construction zone the passenger texted me, “Are you coming?”  I arrived shortly afterward.  I told him I was stuck in the construction zone.  He told he knew about the construction. So if he knew there was construction there and it showed that I was stuck there on the app, why could he not figure out that I was coming? Especially after I confirmed and headed in his direction.  It’s not like I would drive close to him and say “just kidding, find a new ride.”

Ignorantly Educated

As I drove him to his destination we passed by Palomar Community College (PCC).  It is a two-year college that grants associates degrees or provides students with the classes necessary to transfer to a four-year university.  He commented on how poorly they prepare students for work. He went on and on about how bad two-year colleges were.  I did not tell him that I attended PCC.  I decided it was not worth being confrontational with him.   Part of me wanted to tell him everything I had accomplished.  However, I knew telling him my story would be meaningless to him. He already had his mind made up and a short Uber ride was not going to change it.

A Bad Neighborhood

Providence and help from Google maps meant that we passed by my apartment complex.  The passenger felt it was his duty to point out that the apartments on both sides of the street were full of gang members.  He warned me to be careful at night if I ever go near them.  Apparently (sarcasm intended), there had been a drive by and a gang member died just a block away.  Once again, I am very aware of my neighborhood.  It is not the best in the world but it is definitely not the worst.  I have driven to neighborhoods that are much worse than the one I live.

Driving the Wrong Way Down a One Way Street

Over the course of a fifteen-minute drive, he opened his mouth and removed all doubt that he was a fool.  Supposedly he was a well-educated CEO of a local Vista company.  He most likely had the right credentials to back up his claims.  He had no way of knowing that I attended Palomar Community College or that I lived in the apartments he defamed.  That is not the point, a fool makes assertions, accusations, and generalizations without evidence to support them.

I am sure that some students leave PCC without being able to form a coherent sentence or write a decent paper, but I know many that do.  I cannot say that no gang members live in my apartment complex, but I can say that the majority of the people I meet are good hard-working people.  Several months back there was a shooting near my apartment complex, but it was not clear if it was gang related.

Final Thoughts on Being Thought a Fool or Removing All Doubt

There are two extremes.  Many people (aka political correctness) seem to want to police the internet and prevent important dialogue that improves relationships, while others seem to speak whatever is on their minds without regard to the consequences or facts.

Improving Society

I think we need to encourage people to speak and help them to understand. The best way to combat ignorance is through honest discourse between people who disagree.  It is beautiful to watch the proverbial light go on and someone understand something they did not.  If people are afraid to speak up because they will be “thought the fool” then we prevent progress in society.  We need to encourage others to come forward when they have questions or even if they are simply ignorant.  We should not penalize people for discussing important matters because they do not know how to ask the “right” questions.  Everyone regardless of the question should be able to come forward and open a dialogue.

Speak Less – Think More

On the other hand, there are those who speak without knowing all the facts.  They blindly and without regard to the consequences talk or write.  They claim to know something that they do not.  Much like my passenger, they make assertions, accusations, and generalizations based upon opinion and supposition and not valid evidence (anecdotal evidence does not count).  These “fools” need to speak less and listen more.  If you do not have enough information upon which to base your opinion or knowledge, then ask questions or do research.  There is no need for you to speak and look the fool.

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